ATP BRINGS ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS TO ALL REGIONS OF ARMENIA AND THE DIASPORA
[ 2011/03/04 | 12:23 ]
Armenia Tree Project is widely known as an environmental organization
that plants trees in the Republic of Armenia. Over the course of
its experience in greening Armenia, ATP’s leadership recognized
that planting trees alone will not necessarily lead to a successful
outcome. As a result, ATP introduced an environmental education
program to supplement its tree planting programs and prepare a new
generation of environmental stewards.
Some of the goals of the environmental education program are to
engage young people in environmental issues, educate them on how to
think green, to appreciate their natural heritage, and to strive for
a sustainable and healthy environment. Environmental education has
become one of ATP’s core programs and it has been implemented in all
of Armenia’s regions since 2005.
In 2010, 198 teachers were trained to use ATP’s “Plant an Idea, Plant a
Tree” education manual. The teachers were from every region of Armenia,
although a majority was from Lori where there has been widespread
deforestation. Among the trainees were 20 specialists from Armenia’s
National Institute of Education, who became qualified as trainers.
Already in 2011, ATP staff has organized two five-day training
sessions using the “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” teacher’s manual
with 26 teachers from schools in Yerevan. Most of the teachers were
from the Mkhitar Sebastatsi and Aregnazan (Waldorf) schools, along
with participants from 10 other schools in Yerevan.
“Cooperation between Armenia Tree Project and our school is very
valuable, and the ‘Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree’ manual will increase
the environmental activism of our school’s community,” stated A.
Bleyan, the principal of the Mkhitar Sebastatsi School.
Aregnazan is a unique educational program where creativity,
imagination, and art are in the forefront of the educational
methodology and child’s up-bringing. ATP has added “nature and
the environment” to the issues that the teachers and children are
addressing through their creative talents.
“This cooperation with the Aregnazan School is going to bloom further
through various joint environmental activities that are planned for
the spring,” stated Alla Berberyan, who has managed ATP’s environmental
education program since 2009.
When asked about her role with ATP, Ms. Berberyan notes, “Our work
is about awakening in people a love for nature and the ability to
care for it.”
ATP has cooperated with the Shen NGO by distributing its “Environment
and Nature Protection” manual to teachers and children during education
lessons. ATP has also distributed its “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree”
manual to Heifer International and the US Peace Corps for use in
their educational programs in Armenia.
In March, environmental training events are being planned at schools
in Kotayk, Armavir, and Aragatsotn regions. ATP staff provides
environmental training for schoolchildren and involves them in various
practical environmental activities.
“It is inspiring to see the enthusiasm and eagerness of the teachers
and children, each of whom wants to contribute to the protection of
Armenia’s environment,” stated Ms. Berberyan.
Cooperation with diasporan schools also continues within the framework
of the “Building Bridges” program initiated in 2010. For example,
connections are being developed between students at the AGBU Sisag H.
Varjabedian School in Chicago and the Ohanyan School in Armenia.
Children have been learning about each other through sharing letters,
photos, and personal video-stories. They are also preparing stories
about the environment in their local communities.
“Through this program, diasporan students are learning about the
daily life of children in Armenia, as well as about Armenia’s natural
heritage and environmental challenges. We are increasing the number
of schools that are ‘building bridges’ to involve diasporans from
other countries in the coming months,” added Ms. Berberyan.
“Building Bridges presents an exceptional opportunity for our students
to forge cultural bonds with peers halfway around the world that
we hope will be the foundation of the global Armenian community of
tomorrow,” stated Gary Rejebian, cultural and community programs
director for AGBU Chicago. “Every citizen of this community needs to
be concerned about the environment and world we all share. Toward
this end, ATP’s Building Bridges program helps our children learn
environmental responsibility with exceptional clarity and purpose.”
ATP’s mission is to assist the Armenian people in using trees
to improve their standard of living and protect the environment,
guided by the need to promote self-sufficiency, aid those with the
fewest resources first, and conserve the indigenous ecosystem. ATP’s
three major programs are tree planting, environmental education,
and sustainable development initiatives.
From: A. Papazian